Thursday, 25 September 2008

Henry Lord (1815-1887) of Huddersfield & Buxton

One of the difficulties in creating a historical database, for example a list of commercial portrait photographers who operated in a particular area over a particular time period, is the fragmentary nature of the evidence. My compilation of an index of photographers and photographers in Derbyshire, England can therefore never really be considered complete, and indeed it is difficult to determine at any time what proportion of the photographers have been discovered. Although I believe I have found and documented the bulk of those professionals who plied their trade in the county for any length of time, there were many who only operated for a couple of years, or even months. I still come across new candidates for the index on a regular basis, and most can be broadly categorised as follows:

  • travelling photographers, who often lived in and worked from caravans, and moved between counties from month to month, following country fairs or other events,

  • professionals who only worked in Derbyshire for a short period, before moving on and setting up elsewhere,

  • those who were well established elsewhere, and merely visited Derbyshire on a seasonal basis, or briefly operated a branch studio in the county,

  • people who tried their hand at professional photography but, for whatever reasons, moved on to another profession fairly quickly,

  • individuals whose primary profession or employment was in another field, either associated or completely unrelated, but who carried on portrait photography as a sideline, usually from home, often for some years,
One example from the third group is provided by a carte de visite in the collection of John Bradley, an image of which he sent me recently.

Image © and courtesy of John Bradley

It is a full length portrait of a young mean seated in a studio setting which is fairly standard fare for the mid- to late 1860s or early 1870s.

Image © and courtesy of John Bradley

The reverse of the card mount has a design consisting of a coat of arms and lines of text in several different fonts, typical of the mid-to late 1860s. The photographer was, "H. Lord, St Peter's Street, Huddersfield and Spring Gardens, Buxton." Henry Lord (1815-1887) was an established Huddersfield photographer who was originally a painter, but set up a studio in St Peter's Street in the late 1850s. He continued to operate in Huddersfield at least until the 1880s, and died there in 1887. His third son Ralph Herbert Lord was an assistant in the studio as a teenager, but after his marriage in 1878, he settled in Chesterton, Cambridgeshire, where he opened his own photographic business.

Image © and courtesy of Roger VaughanImage © and courtesy of Roger Vaughan

Roger Vaughan has a carte de visite of an unidentified couple by Henry Lord of St Peter's Street, Huddersfield on his web site, probably taken in the early to mid-1870s. The reverse does not list the Buxton branch, so it was presumably short-lived.

Thus far, I have been unable to find any other documentary evidence of Lord's visit (or visits) to Buxton. Buxton was a tourist town, even then, and a huge industry had grown up around catering for the many summer visitors to the mineral springs. Spring Gardens is shown by a later post card and trade directories of the period as a row of four-storey buildings with many lodging houses. I suspect that Henry Lord would rent a room there during his visits to Buxton, presumably designed to look for business at the peak of the holiday season, when many of his more affluent Huddersfield clientele would presumably be out of town.

Although it is possible that further sightings of Henry Lord in Buxton may be discovered in due course - indeed, that is part of the reason for my writing this article on Photo-Sleuth - addresses printed on the reverse of card mounts may subsequently prove to be the only evidence of their presence in a particular location.

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